Belfast Telegraph

Six years for man who killed his attacker during drunken Belfast brawl

By Ashleigh McDonald

A man who admitted the "senseless" killing of a father-of-three during a fatal drunken fight in a Belfast alleyway has been handed a six-year sentence.

John Edward Hugh Holmes, from Egeria Street, was out celebrating his birthday when he became embroiled in a fight with Stanley McAuley in the early hours of April 14 last year.

Mr McAuley (41) died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head following the violent confrontation with Holmes in an alleyway off Chamberlain Street in the east of the city.

The judge told Belfast Crown Court: "This was by no means a one-punch case... as the number of multiple injuries found by the pathologist on the body of the deceased indicated a sustained attack."

Holmes, a 33-year-old father-of-one, will serve three years in prison and three more on supervised licence.

Branding Mr McAuley's death as "senseless", Mr Justice Weir told Holmes that while he accepted Mr McAuley had started the confrontation and that the first blows Holmes issued were defensive, his actions "went significantly beyond anything justified by self-defence".

Holmes and Mr McAuley had both been drinking in the East Belfast Working Men's Club on April 13 last year, with witnesses describing "tension" between them. CCTV footage from the club confirmed that Mr McAuley approached Holmes more than once in an antagonistic manner inside the premises.

Holmes later left the club and was walking along Chamberlain Street followed by Mr McAuley. A fight broke out between the two highly intoxicated men.

Witnesses reported seeing Mr McAuley being attacked by Holmes as he lay on the ground. Mr McAuley sustained multiple injuries to his face, head, chest, abdomen and limbs. His death was attributed to a blunt force trauma to the head, in association with alcohol intoxication and obesity.

Holmes handed himself in to police hours later and later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Two other people charged in connection with the death of Mr McAuley were also sentenced.

Alan Wilton (49) from Lord Street was given nine months for perverting the course of justice.

He had disposed of clothing worn by his 22-year-old daughter Chanel Wilton, of Dunraven Court. She went to his house after witnessing the fight and tried to stop it without success, sustaining minor injuries and blood-stained clothing in the process. Chanel Wilton, who is currently in hospital, was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

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